Vistas: A Personal And Reflective Paper on Extraterrestrial  Visitation

(Hunter Gray / John R. Salter, Jr.)

© John Salter

(Preliminary note: This paper is a much expanded and updated one that I initially did as a semi-private piece for a good friend. It is going to a small and select group of individuals who, whatever their perception of ET visitation may be, are commendably prone to travel the "frontiers." However, recipients are certainly encouraged to forward this on to any or all within their respective circles who have reasonably "open and inquiring minds" -- and who might find this of interest. People are busy so let me assure all that no response to this is required.
Many thanks. Hunter/John.)

     I have always been, from my childhood years onward, a kind of loner -- and an increasingly reflective one. Born from the Four Directions -- as John Randall Salter, Jr. -- I grew up in wild and rugged mountains and canyons at and around Flagstaff, (Coconino County), Arizona. It was a quasi-frontier atmosphere.

     My father was an essentially full-blooded American Indian from the Far Northeast (Mi'kmaq, St. Francis Abenaki, St. Regis Mohawk) -- the first Native professor (Art) hired by Arizona State College, later Northern
Arizona University. Early in his life, born Frank Gray, he had been adopted and partially raised by William Mackintire Salter and Mary Gibbens Salter -- a prominent New England family -- whose brother-in-law was the great philosopher, William James of Harvard. It is well worth noting that Professor James took an early and consistent interest in my father who, with William Salter, visited James a day or two before James' passing at Chocorua, N.H. in 1910. The Salters changed my father's name to John Randall Salter and I, at my hatch, became that as well. In 1995, I legally changed my name to John Hunter Gray -- but the rich intellectual influences of the Salters and William James, which I inherited along with almost all of James' written works, have always greatly influenced me. My mother, Josephine, basically of Scottish/Swiss background, came from an old Western "frontier" family.

     Growing up in the rural West, I began my wilderness explorations of high mountains and extraordinarily deep and rough canyons very early on -- always marveling at the shining vistas and their Promise which pulled me ever further: new mountains, new canyons, new views and new perceptions. And new and worthy challenges.

     In time, consistently maintaining my wilderness roots, I settled on twin vocations: social justice organizing and teaching in the higher educational realms. I've organized all over -- the Southwest, Deep South, New England, Pacific Northwest, Chicago, Iowa, Up-State New York, Northern Plains, Rockies. Grassroots, democratic organizing with people "of the fewest alternatives" is hard, often tedious, sometimes dramatic, and always very necessary work. It can carry many dangers from opposition forces and one certainly doesn't become monetarily wealthy. But bona fide justice organizing always engenders a vast number of rich satisfactions.

     And I've taught in many of those settings. Trained as a sociologist, I've sojourned at Wisconsin State, Superior; Tougaloo College; Goddard College; Coe College; University of Iowa; Navajo Community College (now Dine' College); University of North Dakota -- and part-time at University of Washington; Seattle Community College; Roosevelt University; Southeastern Community College / Iowa State Penitentiary (Native inmates). In all of my teaching, whenever and wherever, I've consistently incorporated an explicitly activist social justice dimension and, at least informally and often formally, one encompassing Native American challenges and studies. (I "officially" retired from teaching in 1994 at the University of North Dakota -- a full professor at American Indian Studies, former departmental chair, chair of Honors for a stint, and a member of the graduate faculty.)

     I married Eldri and our family developed -- and we traveled as a small and cohesive "horde" from one setting to another, decade after decade. Sometimes it's been full-time organizing and part-time teaching; or full-time teaching and full-time organizing; or simply organizing (which can be double-duty work in its own right!) I've worked with grassroots people from all sorts of racial and ethnic and cultural backgrounds in hard-driving and often long-term community organizing.

     But whatever and wherever, my mind -- and often my physical self as well -- are always on the frontiers. Nothing and no one that I've encountered has really surprised me. William James' work, as he termed it, "the pluralistic universe" has been a key part of his legacy to me.

     I can say in all honesty that, prior to March 1988, neither I nor anyone in my family, had any conscious interest in extraterrestrial matters. If we thought at all about it, we certainly recognized the fact that ET life was certainly Out There, somewhere, and we didn't react to, say, the reports of sightings of unidentified flying objects in instinctive, skeptical fashion. But none of this was of any conscious interest to any of us.

     This all began to change on March 20, 1988 when I, and my then 23 year old son, John III, left North Dakota for essentially academic speaking stints in Mississippi and Louisiana. Several days before our departure, I had, in an unusually atypical, uncharacteristic fashion (since we are always relatively straight-line/no dallying drivers), sketched out a somewhat non-direct route through the rugged and lonely Mississippi River hill country of southwestern Wisconsin and its narrow roads. This was not, for us, an area of any
especial geographical interest.

     Once into that specific area, what we later realized was a kind of "double amnesia" enveloped us. In that context, we were further diverted onto other roads illogical and eventually obscure. In due course, we both
experienced -- in addition to that while traveling -- 90 minutes or so of "missing time" (memory blank-out) in the darkened woods near Richland Center, Wisconsin.

     When we regained conscious awareness, still in that basic setting, we were naturally confused and bewildered. We made our way onward, eventually connecting with our planned route. And then the next day, March 21, a few miles east of Peoria, Illinois, we had a close-up and fully conscious sighting of a small and gleaming space craft of some sort not far above us in the sky. After we had had a good look at it, it left at an incredible speed. At that point, I wondered if that had something to do with the puzzling events of the preceding evening. We continued into the Deep South, fulfilled all of the speaking engagements most satisfactorily, and returned to North Dakota. But we obviously had some new and interesting questions on our reflective agendas. When we sought to answer them, however, we initially hit a wall.

     But about three months later, I began the process of spontaneous recall that moved forward in linear and vivid fashion. By then in northern California, my son's recall began as well. Our respective recall, which meshes with and complements that of each of us, indicates clearly that the bulk of our 90 minutes of missing time in the woods was spent with six or seven small humanoids (which we later learned from other people are termed the "Grays") -- and one taller figure about six feet in height. They met us at the end of a dark and very narrow and quite lonely rough dirt road -- the final stretch of our diversion. The atmosphere was very friendly, even cordial. We walked with them up a hill to a rather secluded area where a small space craft was landed. Inside that, there were cursory medical examinations of each of us, several injections into me which in early retrospect related to endocrine glands. Some comparable medical things were done with my son.

     When, accompanied by several of the smaller ETs and guided by the taller figure, we returned to our parked vehicle, the explicit sense -- coming to us telepathically -- was that "we will see one another again, in another place, in another time."

     From late April 1988 onward, there came for me a number of obviously positive physiological changes tallying up to significantly improved health -- e.g., improved skin and circulation, cuts that clot almost immediately and heal within hours, higher levels of energy and immunity, and much more. And too, it's worth noting that my feet have grown from size 12 in 1989 to several sizes larger today -- twenty-five years later. John III, who also experienced positive changes, and who had achieved his basic growth by 1988, subsequently grew an inch and a half taller. I essentially put down several brief bouts of what eventually turned out much later to have been Systemic Lupus (SLE), a genetic and often lethal disease which has, among other targets, a special preference for Native Americans. This has no cure and there have been no new and really effective medicines for half a century.

     This disease, SLE, struck me full force in 2003. I nearly died three times at its outset -- but "miraculously" survived. The doctor who emerged as my primary care person had no problem with my account of ET encounters and their beneficial ramifications and entered it all into my basic medical report. He noted that all of these positive changes were consistent with Human Growth Hormone -- something of which I knew nothing. Gradually and steadily, my medical situation improved. Then, in an extremely rare medical development, beginning in 2011 and continuing to this moment, exhaustive blood tests have determined that I have "no active Lupus." This has been a most signal and pleasant surprise for all of my physicians. In the wake of this prolonged medical "war," I now look very much indeed as I have always looked for many, many years.

     In due course after 1988, it became clear that I had had three previous close interactive encounters with ETs: late summer, 1941, in a rural setting when I was seven; early August, 1952 in an isolated region when I was 18; and a third, at 23, again in a lonely setting, in late May, 1957 -- all cloaked for decades in amnesia. We know of no previous encounters involving John.

     Years later, on a dark late night, around midnight July 4, 1997, on a very lonely highway in eastern Montana -- the first time that John III and I had traveled at length together, by ourselves, since March 1988 -- we had
another close and interactive encounter. It involved very transitory double amnesia and diversion onto a nearby ranch road. At least some of the same ETs from the 1988 episode were present. It was friendly and cordial, not as lengthy or involved as that of 1988, and involved "booster injections."

     And then there came yet another ET encounter, this in a somewhat different genre. The setting is our present home, 'way up on the western "frontier" of Pocatello, Idaho -- only a stone's toss from U.S. Bureau of Land Management turf -- and close to U.S. Forest Service lands.

     On the night of October 18, 2012 I turned in early as usual -- about 8 p.m. and, as usual, anticipated getting up at about 1:30 or 2 a.m. I sleep by myself in my bedroom/office. As always, our front door was locked -- with two strong locks. It is always locked at night. So is the back door. (Not everyone in this setting is fond of us.) My daughter, Maria, went to bed at about the same time -- and, as always, checked to make certain the front door was locked. Eldri, my good spouse, stayed up longer but was asleep by about 10:30 or 11 p.m. or so. We have a very large dog that barks noisily at literally anything and at any time.

     I had an extremely vivid "dream" that, even then, I saw as something vastly more than just a dream. A face, grayish white, was looking down at me. It was somewhat distorted in its width -- in retrospect I'd say because of whatever may have been gently utilized to keep me still -- but the quite slanted eyes, blue, were not distorted. They locked with mine. They conveyed great intensity, great friendliness, and some good humor. This image remained for a little while. I then, at some point, awoke fully -- maybe about 2 a.m.

     This was a puzzling event. It came into focus when Maria, having awakened following a normal sleep, came up the stairs quite excited. The locks on the front door were unlocked. Nothing like that has ever happened before. And at no point that night had our large dog -- very possibly gently immobilized -- barked very loudly and consistently as he always does. (Smooth entrance and smooth departure -- quite different than a crude and unsuccessful abortive attempt to enter our home by an ill-wisher of some sort in the early morn of July 13, 2013.)

     The blue eyes, and the mind behind them, conveyed a powerful sense of optimism in the context of difficult challenges, involving me, that soon emerged. And within two weeks after this, a number of personal challenges arose on several fronts, including always problematic and surreal Mississippi. These all required strong and deft handling by me -- which I provided for months. And things indeed are working through in very positive fashion.

     I see this as a very definite ET visitation -- and obviously a very friendly and unquestionably helpful one.

     Almost all of the foregoing was vividly recalled by me right after my awakening. But then, several months later, there was an enduring and intriguing component of spontaneous recall related to all of this. Immediately before the appearance of the friendly ET, there had appeared in my quasi dream state a horizontal and neatly rectangular dimension of light grayish material -- with an equally grayish background, possibly a wall --into which were clearly engraved seven or eight identical images of ET faces -- "Grays". We conjecture that this was presented telepathically to let me know this was an ET encounter.
Obviously, all of these experiences have been great grist for reflection, deep and high -- including some salient conclusions.

     We see the ETs as People -- not angels, devils, psychic phenomena, or time travelers. And whatever their developmental processes, we see them as people very much like ourselves. It seems very probable that they long ago, with respect to their social / political system or systems, worked out a sensible balance between collective and individual well-being, drawing from the best of the group and from the best of individual creativity. A significant indication that their ethos is not authoritarian lies in occasional reports by "encountered humans" of disagreements between crew members and leaders. More to the point, they could never have accomplished that which they've attained and are attaining if theirs was a totalitarian or "hive" super-collective mentality -- or individualistic in a cut-throat sense.

     They are distinctive, individual personalities, working together. I cannot resist injecting the time-honored principle of "tribal responsibility" -- i.e., the group has an obligation to the individual and the individual to the group; and where, in the event of a conflict, the group's well-being comes first -- but where there are also clearly defined areas of individual and family autonomy into which the group cannot intrude. Faithful adherence to those specific principles has enabled Native American tribal societies, cultures, and people to survive the past several very difficult centuries.

     We see the ETs as non-threatening -- indeed, friendly -- but, given the turbulent nature of our planet, understandably cautious. It's obvious that, in a number of respects including technology, they are "ahead" of us. If they wished, they could easily subjugate and exploit our earth and our people -- probably could have long, long ago. [But why indeed would any rational entity -- and the ETs are obviously quite rational -- want to assume the management of this notoriously problematic planet?]

     We see these encounters as comparatively selective, unusual, but not especially rare. In the years since 1988, I have dialogued extensively with more than 200 or so individuals who have had experiences comparable to our own and whose friendly perceptions are similar. These make up a good cross section with respect to race, ethnicity, culture, social class.

     Assimilating all that we've experienced and learned, it seems highly probable that the ETs are involved in a long-term sensitization project, designed to acquaint us of earth with the nearby presence of friendly ET
life. By World War II and its immediate aftermath and the beginning of our experience with nuclear matters, much of the human race was well along the trail of "readiness" for at least something of an awareness of the ETs. We could and certainly can now, in many cases, conceive of travel and life in outer space. This perception of ours as earthly humans is increasing rapidly.

     Among the most popular courses that I regularly taught at the University of North Dakota -- during my many years there -- were Federal Indian Law, Racism and Hate Groups in America, and Community Organizing (with a special focus involving Native Americans.) But there was another! In 1990, when I was Chair of the Honors Program, students asked me to develop an elective course on extraterrestrial phenomena. I did so (three semester hours credit) and, in the fall semester of that year, it drew almost 200 students from a wide variety of majors (most undergrads but some for graduate credit) -- heavy from the hard sciences and aerospace studies.

     I taught it three more times, along with a couple of mini versions for the general community -- and also as a special interactive televised class (for credit). It was always full-up and the full semester versions continued to draw a couple of hundred each time -- and continued to feature undergraduate and graduate credit. (I can say with pride that all of my courses were consistently large.) We always spent some time in the ET course on an examination of Earth as ETs might see It/Us and that dimension early on gave the course the status of fulfilling one of the Humanities requirements. At various points, it was sponsored by Honors and Indian Studies and its final appearance was as Psych 494. I "retired" as a Full Professor at the end of the spring of 1994 and remain active in social justice pursuits and attendant writing.

     And, however awkwardly and painfully (to put it mildly), our human values and our social consciousness and sensitivity are steadily improving in such areas as race and ethnicity and inter-cultural relations -- and in a
recognition of the importance of peaceful and harmonious relationships at every level of human society.

     The ETs have every good and rational reason to develop on our part, with whatever deliberate pace, a friendly awareness of their friendly existence as we move slowly toward substantive entry into outer space.

     And, ultimately, as the Streams of Life inevitably do, we will have open and friendly contact with the ETs, productive communication, and mutually beneficial exchange of experiences and knowledge.

     We all, the ETs and ourselves, have much indeed -- rich and valuable -- to offer each other.

     And speaking as someone who has spent his life so far on the organizing and educational social justice fronts -- frequently from the perspective of race and ethnic relations and often under extraordinarily difficult conditions -- I am very well aware of how fast inter-personal and social barriers can fall when participants are willing to see each other as fellow offspring in a vast and friendly Creation; and to recognize the great and wonderful Promise thereof and therein.

     I still see and savor the great and shining vistas of the high mountains and deep canyons.

     But now, I also see far, far Beyond.

     And I know that no intelligent life, however far and away, is alien to me --
or to any of us.


See AN ACCOUNT OF THE SALTER UFO ENCOUNTERS OF MARCH, 1988; THEIR BACKGROUND, DEVELOPMENT, AND RAMIFICATIONS, by John R. Salter, Jr. (1989 with some updates.) This is presently available via, among other sources, the internet..

     Hunter Gray is deceased. During his lifetime, he wrote and published numerous articles and essays on social justice and related issues and has provided a number of oral histories. He is the author of a book: Jackson, Mississippi: An American Chronicle of Struggle and Schism, which has recently been reissued in updated and expanded form by the University of Nebraska Press, and several extensive monographs. Over the years, he has received various honors for his social justice work and teaching. Among them is the 1989 annual Martin Luther King, Jr. Award for historical and contemporary social justice activities --given by the North Dakota State King Commission and the Governor. In 2005, he was honored with the Elder Achievement Award from Wordcraft Circle of Native Writers and Storytellers. He was named by the National Indian Gaming Commission in 2012 as one of four Native individuals who has contributed significantly to human rights. He retired from the University of North Dakota as a full professor in 1994 and lived at Pocatello, Idaho with his wife of 52 years. He was predeceased by Eldri, his wife.
His website is


St. Francis Abenaki / St. Regis Mohawk
Member, National Writers Union AFL-CIO

Check out our massive social justice website The site is dedicated to our
one-half Bobcat, Cloudy Gray, and to Sky Gray:

SHOOTING LUPUS -- Driving this oft-lethal deadly
disease of mine back into its genetic cave and into
impotency in an eight year war:

page -- with a great deal of practical material:

See my new expanded/updated "Organizer's Book,"
JACKSON MISSISSIPPI -- with a new 10,000 word
introduction by me. This page lists many reviews.
And this book is also an activist's how-to manual:

The Stormy Adoption of an Indian Child [My Father]:

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